Patriots: Rob Gronkowski’s departure from Pats deserves more scorn

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 24: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 24: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Not only did Tom Brady take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in his first season away from the New England Patriots, but he did so with Rob Gronkowski at tight end, luring the future Hall of Famer out of retirement after he forced through a trade to Tampa Bay.

While Gronkowski hasn’t had his most productive season, he’s been a serviceable starting tight end, which is something Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels lacked this season.

The Patriots failed to adequately replace Gronkowski, leaning on underperforming, oftentimes non-existent, rookies like Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.

While Gronkowski remains a deity in New England, as well he should, he shouldn’t be totally absolved for what became a messy end to his time as a Patriot.

Rob Gronkowski could’ve handled his departure better, as it handicapped the New England Patriots.

Gronkowski, who is entering his sixth Super Bowl alongside Brady, essentially manipulated the Patriots into failing to find an adequate replacement, as the uncertainty surrounding his desire to play made it difficult for New England to gauge how big a need tight end was.

The only time the Patriots did come close to potentially getting a solid replacement and/or draft picks for Gronkowski was when they considered trading him to the Detroit Lions, a move that Gronkowski decided was more difficult to swallow than retirement.

Even when he came back, his desire to only play in Tampa Bay due to his admiration for Brady limited the trade market and what the Patriots could get back for him.

While not a very controversial exit, Gronkowski, who has been heralded for his chemistry-building efforts as a Buc, did make some moves that prevented the Patriots from finding a replacement in the very short time frame he gave them. Unless Asiasi or Keene turns into a Pro Bowl player quickly, this departure might sting a franchise that has always had a history of great tight end play.